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I am not Michael Howard

Blogpower Testimonial 10: Ellee Seymour

Link: Ellee Seymour - Why me?.

Image021There is a sense in which Ellee Seymour is cheating. She is no"citizen journalist" blogger, but a professional PR person and former "dead tree" hack. She spins, no doubt guilefully, for her political PR clients, making politicians look better than they are (why else do they pay her?) Yet I have no sense that the warm and open style for which her blog is known is contrived. Having briefly met her, I think she writes pretty much as she speaks. If she spins for a living, then her blog is not obviously a busman's holiday - although I am sure it's a useful business card. She is making her readers like her, prospective clients must think, so why shouldn't she do the same for them?

Her first post was typical. She waded in with personal revelations, as if resuming an interrupted conversation with a friend. She revealed her reason for blogging; to record her experiences as she strove to overcome a fear of public speaking. Her blogging has now taken on a life of its own, but how very Ellee-ish that it began as part of a flurry of practical initiatives to address a problem.

The idea of a blog was suggested by a fellow member of Toastmasters. Ellee had joined to help resolve her public speaking issues. In the next two posts, she told us that she was also taking up salsa and charity work as part of the same self-improvement programme. There are no half measures with Ellee. This was a woman remaking herself.

Her open style makes Ellee a natural for blogging. In those first three posts, she revealed more than I have in two ponderous years. No wonder her readers were agog to know where this personal voyage would lead. Pretty soon however her journalistic and political instincts took over. While the relentless self-revelation continued, broader topics crept in. She rapidly became enthused with the idea of helping her clients to reach target audiences through blogging. Her enthusiasm shone through in posts about conversations with more-or-less bemused friends as her thinking developed.

Enthusiasm ought to be Ellee's middle name. Not long after her tsunami of self-improvement began, she was making her singing debut with the Stretham Players in yet another attempt to overcome a lack of confidence that I am damned if I can detect. I make public speeches regularly and am perfectly confident on a stage, but I am a shrinking violet by comparison with Ellee.

After just four months' blogging, Iain Dale placed her in 9th place among his top 20 Conservative blogs. By September 16th Ellee was ranked in the top 10 of 100 Conservative bloggers and in the top 10% of 400 blogs of all political persuasions. By November, the lady who couldn't bear the idea of public speaking was making her first appearance on TV, being interviewed about Jon Snow's refusal to wear a poppy when reading the news. 2006 ended on a high note with the award of a "blogging CBE" by Tory Radio.

Ellee's fame seems certain to grow further in 2007. On "Blue Monday" she appeared on 18 Doughty Street and by all accounts she did well. Ellee is an A List Blogger. Blogpower is lucky to have her - and would be even luckier if she would get around to displaying the banner and blogroll!

Why is she so successful? Instinctively, she understood from the outset that blogs are a social medium. A blog is not an electronic soapbox; it is about interaction. I have developed a new theory in the course of researching my Blogpower reviews. I think that commenters subconsciously match their style to the blogger's own, rather as people in meetings mimic the posture and gestures of people they would like to influence. It is noticeable that commenters who can be acerbic elsewhere, tend to be affable on Ellee's blog. People become nicer around her. In consequence her blog is no literary salon or debating arena, but a kitchen where friends chat over coffee and virtual biscuits.

Ellee's diverse interests lead naturally to an interesting balance of local, national and international subjects. She is direct and uncomplicated; saying what she thinks in such a gentle, commonsense way that it is impossible to take offence even when she is hopelessly wrong. She asks questions rather than offering opinions or rants. That's one key reason why her blog is a busy place with lots of views exchanged. The contrast with the smell of gunsmoke in the comment columns of some male blogs could not be more dramatic. That friendly atmosphere means it always a pleasure to visit, even if such cutesy words as "sparky" and "hubby" do occasionally make me cringe!

"Lady Ellee" is a treasure. Long may she adorn the British blogosphere in general, and Blogpower in particular.

[This, thank God, concludes my exhausting series of 10 reviews of Blogpower blogs. Normal political ranting will now resume!]


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Jeremy Jacobs

Wow, what a testimonial. Ellee deserves it. A star indeed.


Oops, that should be credibility, of course.


Thanks Tom, I really appreciate your very thoughtful comments. The essence behind my blog is to establish trust and credality, both personally and professionally, as well as encourage interactive debate on topical issues. It has given me so much fun and I have come across a great bunch of people - I know the best is yet to come. I am for ever enthusiastic!

Tom Paine

Ellee, you are welcome. Do you really want me to go back through the whole exercise to find examples of what you were "hopelessly wrong" about? We are all hopelessly wrong sometimes. In my case, about almost everything I believed about five years before any given point. Given my negative views about Britain's prospects at this moment, I have my fingers crossed that in five years from now I will laugh at how hopelessly wrong I was! You are doing a great job (that's the six word executive summary of the review)


As the lucky guy who got Ellee into blogging its been wonderful to see her blossom the way she has. An amazing person so full of life she took to blogging like a duck to water.
May she continue to be succesful. I'm eagerly awaiting the day when she has more readers than her old newspaper!


Hi Tom, Thank you for this painstaking and time-consuming eulogy. I do wonder if I come over as being too nice, but it's not my style to be aggressive, I always believe that facts can speak for themselves and I let people make their own mind up on the topics I write about.

I appreciate the considerable time you spent researching me, I also think Welshcakes and Bel are both equally pleasant, lots of bloggers are nice. Iain Dale describes me along the lines as being "a calm and reasoned voice" among the usual ranters. I am aware my blog isn't a bitchy site, which is what some readers may prefer, but this is simply not my style.

My blogging style has evolved over time, I was unsure about it when I started, I had no clear cut plans. I do enjoy intellectual stimulation, meeting other like minded people and being part of the excellent Blogpower community. I hope to have the Blogpower link added soon, btw, I am waiting for a friend to return from his travels soon and sort it for me.

My main aim is to facitate debate and interaction and to link up with readers from different backgrounds and cultures on news and politics, as well as women's issues. So as well as being a Tory blogger, I am delighted to be recognised as a Green blogger and a feminist one too. I am really pleased that I have managed to interact with those different audiences. I certainly enjoy getting comments from the ranters, as well as those who make very thoughtful contributions.

And Tom, I'm trying to think what I might have been "hopelessly wrong" about, I would rather you tell me than stay silent.

I hope my cyberspace friends will continue to visit my site for a virtual coffee and chat.

james higham

Tom, I shuddered when I read of your fee but you have written the definitive testimonials. The last is a masterpiece and I can well believe the eight hours.

It couldn't have been done any other way because it is you and now there are ten testaments to your ability as a writer. These will be referred back to over and over. I count myself lucky to have been on the end of one of them and I know the others would feel that too.


You have got her perfectly- the thing that really comes out of her blog is both her tolerance and just simple niceness- the only thing I'd add is that she comments like that as well- many's the time when Ellee's commented on one of my posts and its been a very pleasant discursive piece on something I've written. Well done.

Tom Paine

[blushes] Thanks, Colin. You are too kind. I think I have learned quite a lot from the exercise, but I am really glad it's over. Had I known what I was taking on, I would have thought of some other way to "do my bit" for Blogpower. For example, I spent more than eight hours reading Ellee's blog from beginning to end, following links, reading some of the comments etc. I am still a bit unwell and can't sleep, so I sat up the whole night doing that. It's in the eclectic nature of Ellee's blog that some of the posts really didn't interest me, but I had to read them all to do a proper job.

Of course, as you see from my endorsement, most of it was a pleasure to read. Her enthusiasm is naieve sometimes, but hightly infectious and her zest for life is so enviable as to be almost implausible.

The other nine reviews were similar exercises so, had I been doing it in my professional capacity, Blogpower would now owe me over €100,000 (plus Russian VAT) in fees! The work became more intense over time because one blogger reviewed (whose work I like and respect) picked up an error. He was gracious about it, but it embarrassed me and I became a bit obsessive about avoiding a repetition. Anyone attempting a similar exercise would be well advised to send pre-publication drafts to the bloggers reviewed to spare themselves that grief!

I was also caught up in Blogpower's little controversy as one blogger (Tony Sharp) left between my starting research and publishing. Frankly, having announced I was going to review him, it would have been a bit petty not to finish the job but it was a little irritating to "waste" effort when the whole idea was that this was my personal contribution to promoting Blogpower blogs. In effect, I lost 10% of my investment. I hope the other nine now feel morally obliged to stay!

Ellee, by the way, is remarkable. Her character is a shield. Hardly anyone ever leaves an unfriendly comment or snipes at her from elsewhere. Watching a community coalesce around her as I read the blog from the beginning gave me a more positive view of human nature. She should certainly be in politics. She's wasting her time digging other men's political ditches.

Colin Campbell

I have to congratulate you on your work. If we were famous, you could change career and potentially retire on the royalties. Much appreciated.

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